Cibus is on track to launch SU Canola into Canada in 2017

CORRECTION – March 9, 2016 – The original version of this story contained misleading information. The release of Cibus’ SU Canola has not been delayed due to yield and oil quality issues. Cibus says the product’s release in Canada was always targeted for 2017 and it is moving through the variety registration process as quickly as the regulatory process permits. 

An American biotechnology company is hoping to bring its first non-genetically modified, herbicide-tolerant canola line to the Canadian market next year.

Cibus Global of San Diego has already launched its SU canola product in the northern United States, company spokesperson Steve Sanders said during a recent stop in Saskatoon.

A small number of canola growers in North Dakota grew the product last year as part of a limited U.S. launch.

Cibus has already secured Canadian regulatory approval for the product, which regulators have defined as a plant with novel traits (PNT).

“We’re actually not that far away, in terms of having regulatory approvals completed in Canada and looking to market as early as next year,” said Cibus official Steve Sanders.

SU canola is Cibus’s first commercial seed product that was developed using a patented gene-editing procedure known as the rapid trait development system (RTDS).

It is tolerant to the sulfonylurea family of herbicides.

Gene editing refers to a variety of new plant breeding technologies that allow breeders to make precise genetic changes at a targeted location in the plant genome.

Cibus’s RTDS gene editing technology is considered non-GMO and non-transgenic, meaning it does not introduce foreign genetic traits into the plant being developed.

The technology would have major implications for the canola industry in terms of market access, particularly in markets that are reluctant to buy GM products.

Sanders said growers in the United States are happy with the SU canola’s weed control package.

Market acceptance is expected to expand significantly this year.

“It was a somewhat limited launch last year,” Sanders said.

“But we’ll have a presence this year in the (U.S.) marketplace.”

Sanders said Cibus is also continuing to work with the Flax Council of Canada and other partners as it develops non-GM, non-transgenic glyphosate tolerant flax varieties that will ultimately be aimed at the Canadian marketplace.

The company already has glyphosate tolerant flax plants in its greenhouse facilities. The next steps are to assess and select experimental lines that can be used to produce market-ready varieties.

“We need to make sure that our lines perform well and that our trait gives us field level tolerance,” Sanders said. “In terms of market, we’re shooting for a limited launch in 2019 for the United States and hopefully a year later in Canada.”

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